Member, Hosea Board of Advisors
“I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore.”
To be honest, my husband and I have been feeling a lot like Dorothy in the “The Wizard of Oz” due to a ruling by the Kansas Supreme Court.
During the 2015 session, the Kansas State Legislature (by overwhelmingly majorities in both chambers) passed The Kansas Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act. Signed into law on April 7, 2015, by then-Governor Sam Brownback, now ambassador at large for religious freedom, the law banned dismemberment abortions except in certain situations.
Before going any further, it’s important to first understand dismemberment abortion.
Planned Parenthood describes dismemberment abortion (also known as dilation and evacuation or D&E) as an in-clinic procedure using suction and medical tools to empty the uterus. It’s typically used for a pregnancy 16 gestational weeks or later.
In other words, the child is dismembered while still alive, then extracted from the womb, one piece at a time. According to Kansans for Life, nine such abortions occur in the state every week. That’s nearly 170 each year!
The new law was the first such ban in the nation. Other states started drafting similar laws, using the Kansas a model or springboard. Unfortunately, the law never took effect in Kansas.
Almost immediately after the law’s passage, two abortionists, the father-daughter team of Drs. Herbert Hodes and Traci Nauser, along with the New-York based Center for Reproductive Rights, filed a legal challenge in a case known as Hodes and Nauser, MDs v. Schmidt, a case which wound its way through the various levels of the legal system, ultimately reaching the Kansas Supreme Court.
The doctors claimed that sections 1 and 2 of the Kansas State Constitution (and not the United States Constitution) recognize a “fundamental right to abortion.”
Like so many other state constitutions, the first section of the Kansas Constitution draws from our nation’s founding documents. In fact, the first section is taken almost verbatim from the Declaration of Independence and reads, “All men are possessed of equal and inalienable rights, among which are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
Although the court heard arguments in March 2017, it took two years before the Kansas Supreme Court issued its final ruling in April 2019. Of the seven justices who heard the case, six agreed with the father-daughter abortionists. It’s interesting to note the justices took nearly 200 pages to explain their ruling, affirming the state constitution, drafted in 1859, contained not only a right to abortion, but “a fundamental right to abortion.”
Only one justice dissented, Justice Caleb T. Stegall. Perhaps he is the one who best understood what was at stake-the lives of innocent preborn children. He wrote, “In this imagined world, the Liberty Bell rings every time a baby in utero loses her arm.”
Currently, Kansas is poised to become an epicenter of abortion activity as a result of the ruling. The ruling threatens more than two dozen other laws enacted since 1997 which have allowed the people, through the state legislature, to regulate abortion and protect the lives of both women and children. Laws such as those which require a 24-hour waiting period before an abortion or parental consent in the case of a minor seeking an abortion have reduced the abortion rate in Kansas throughout the past 22 years by about 50 percent.
The other night, my husband asked me what I thought would have happened if any of the seven justices of the Kansas State Supreme Court would have viewed the1984 film, “The Silent Scream.”
Coproduced by Dr. Bernard N. Nathanson, the father of the abortion industry, a man who repented of his ways and later claimed responsibility for 75,000 abortions, the documentary is not for the faint of heart. In it, Dr. Nathanson calmly narrates the dismemberment abortion of an 11-week-old baby. Near the beginning, he cautions viewers that, “We are going to watch a child being torn apart, dismembered, disarticulated, crushed and destroyed.”
As a result of Marc’s question, I started thinking. What if the justices had seen the film? Would they have ruled differently? How did they arrive at such a ruling in the first place? And if a court can issue such a ruling here in the heartland of the nation, what is to stop other courts across the nation from issuing similar rulings?
For the past several months, prolife advocates in Kansas have been working towards passage of the Value Them Both amendment. The goal is to place it on the primary ballot in August for Kansans to “reverse the ruling,” which resulted from the Hodes and Nauser case.
The amendment would not ban abortions (as opponents claim), but would return the right to regulate abortion to the people through their elected representatives. Although more than 30,000 Kansans signed postcards of support, currently the amendment needs four votes in the Kansas House before it can be placed on the ballot.
While prolife advocates work towards that goal here in Kansas, I’d encourage you to understand the current situation in your own particular state. If a ruling such as the one handed down in Hodes and Nauser can be handed down here, I shudder to think how other state constitutions might be interpreted in view of “the law of the land.” If we don’t stay vigilant, all of us might be saying, “I’ve a feeling we’re not in the United States anymore.”
Julie Anderson is a member of the Hosea Board of Advisors, a freelance journalist of 20 years and a prolife advocate. She writes from her home state of Kansas. For her full bio, see hosea4you.org.